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For Christmas – Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It Too?

December 25, 2023

Written by Clay Smith

Spoon Feed
In this spoof BMJ article, some of the delightful Christmas desserts on the Great British Bake Off actually have ingredients that might be good for you. The authors’ conclusion: “This Christmas, if concerns about the limitations of observational nutrition research are set aside, you can have your cake and eat it too.” We wish you a Merry Christmas!

What a nutty article!
This is a spoof BMJ Christmas article. The gist is they did an “umbrella review of umbrella reviews” (which is not really a thing) of nutritional research, and they found that some of the ingredients in the tempting desserts listed on the Great British Bake Off website were actually good for us! The “nice” ingredients included nuts, fruits, and (my personal favorite) coffee. However, on the “naughty” list were ingredients such as alcohol and sugar. Despite this being an article meant primarily for humor, it had some good teaching points – actually not kidding here. One was that we need to be very skeptical of umbrella reviews in which authors pull big “themes” from the systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which can be somewhat subjective. Large systematic reviews are only as reliable as the original studies included, especially when those studies are observational (i.e. most nutritional research). Mixing together a bunch of “half-baked” (or should I say “underbaked,” Paul?) articles that come to a potentially incorrect conclusion may only tend to amplify and perpetuate wrong ideas.

How will this change my practice?
Oh, this won’t change my practice at all. I will continue to eat Christmas desserts with abandon, even those with alcohol and sugar! Merry Christmas to all our JournalFeed readers. May the knowledge you gain from JournalFeed (except today, of course) serve your patients well, improve their health, and save the lives of many.

Association of health benefits and harms of Christmas dessert ingredients in recipes from The Great British Bake Off: umbrella review of umbrella reviews of meta-analyses of observational studies. BMJ. 2023 Dec 20:383:e077166. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2023-077166.